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Ozil lifts Madrid past Betis

Mesut Ozil scored on each side of the intermission on Saturday as Real Madrid eased past Real Betis, 3-1, at the Bernabeu.

After a tightly-played first 45 minutes, Real Madrid broke through just moments before the halftime whistle as Mesut Ozil ran onto a well-placed through ball from Karim Benzema and ripped a low shot into the bottom right corner past Betis goalkeeper Adrian Castillo for the 1-0 lead.

Madrid made it 2-0 in the 57th minute on the counter attack as Cristiano Ronaldo sent a cutting ball through the Betis defense to Benzema, who beat Castillo to the bottom left corner with a left-footed strike.

Betis got one back in the 72nd minute after Ruben Castro was brought down in the penalty area, resulting in a spot kick.

Jorge Molina stepped up and calmly put it past Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez into the top left corner to pull his side within 2-1.

But Madrid secured the victory in stoppage time when Ozil collected his second tally of the day from close range.

The result extends Madrid's winning streak in league play to five straight matches and puts them six points clear of Atletico Madrid for second place, while Betis remains in seventh place with 48 points from 32 matches.

Barcelona 1, Levante 0

Barcelona, Spain - Cesc Fabregas's tally late in the second half was all Barcelona needed as the Catalans topped Levante, 1-0, on Saturday at the Camp Nou.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi was not in the squad on Saturday as he continues to recover from a thigh injury suffered in the first leg of Barcelona's Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain.

Even without Messi, Barcelona dominated the match, keeping 80 percent of the ball and putting nine shots on target, but the breakthrough did not come for the league leaders until the 84th minute when Alexis Sanchez sent a quick pass to Fabregas, who fired it into the bottom left corner for the only goal of the match.

The victory lifts the Catalans 13 points clear of second-place Real Madrid, while Levante remains in 12th place, stuck on 40 points.

Granada 1, Valladolid 1

Granada, Spain - Youssef El Arabi scored with less than 20 minutes to play to rescue a point for Granada in a 1-1 draw with Valladolid on Saturday at Los Carmenes.

After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, the visitors struck first in the 58th minute as Patrick Ebert beat Granada goalkeeper Roberto with a perfectly- placed free kick into the top left corner to make it 1-0.

But Granada found its equalizer in the 73rd minute when Diego Buonanotte whipped a cross into the box where El Arabi got his head on it and powered it into the top left corner to put the sides back on level terms.

Valladolid stays in 13th place with 39 points, while Granada rises out of the bottom three with 29 points from 32 matches.

Valencia 5, Malaga 1

Valencia, Spain - Roberto Soldado scored two first-half goals in a two-minute span on Saturday as Valencia rolled to a 5-1 thrashing of Malaga at the Mestalla.

The home side opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Daniel Parejo beat Malaga goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero with a quick right-footed strike and it was 2-0 for Valencia three minutes later when Soldado bagged his first of the day.

Just two minutes later Soldado struck again to make it 3-0 and Sergio Canales scored a minute after that to put Valencia up by a comfortable 4-0 margin.

Julio Baptista pulled one back in first-half stoppage time for Malaga, but Ever Banega scored for Valencia in the 56th minute to seal a result that was never in question.